Telecommunications in the African Small Island Developing States

37 Pages Posted: 16 Apr 2010

See all articles by Ewan Sutherland

Ewan Sutherland

University of the Witwatersrand, LINK Centre

Date Written: April 2, 2010


Analysis, research and training about telecommunications in Africa focus on a few larger markets, though with growing interest in pan-African operators. At the other extreme lie the Small Island Developing States (SIDS): the Cape Verde Islands, the Union of the Comoros, Mauritius, São Tomé & Principe and the Seychelles. These are literally on the margin, both geographically and in the functioning of their ICT markets, facing specific challenges in crafting courses towards their own information societies. They face disproportionate problems in creating and regulating properly functioning markets, notably in sustaining competition. Maintaining a policy unit in a ministry is expensive and difficult to justify, while a regulatory authority can be funded by taxing operators. Basic regulatory instruments (e.g., auctioning of spectrum, number portability and local loop unbundling) and some policy instruments (e.g., public consultations and parliamentary oversight committees) do not work easily on a very small scale. Some of the SIDS benefit from tourism and from this roaming revenues flow to the mobile operators. This paper synthesises the lessons from the African SIDS and identifies areas for further research.

Keywords: Africa, SIDS, Telecommunications, Regulation, Privatization, Development

JEL Classification: N37, L96, N47

Suggested Citation

Sutherland, Ewan, Telecommunications in the African Small Island Developing States (April 2, 2010). Available at SSRN: or

Ewan Sutherland (Contact Author)

University of the Witwatersrand, LINK Centre ( email )

1 Jan Smuts Avenue
Johannesburg, Gauteng 2000
South Africa


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